The day after Elon Musk challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a “cage match” on social media last month, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White received an email.
It was from Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta. He asked White, the president of the world’s premier mixed martial arts tournament in a cage-like ring, if Musk was going to take the fight seriously.
White called Musk, who runs Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX, to confirm his intention to resign. Mr. White passed it on to Mr. Zuckerberg. In response, Zuckerberg posted on Instagram, “Send me your location,” a reference to Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the UFC’s most decorated athletes.
Since then, White said he has been talking to the tech billionaires separately every night to organize the showdown. “I was on the phone with those two until 12:45 a.m.,” he said on Tuesday. He further added that he “wants to do both.”
If you thought the cage fight between the two richest people in the world was just a social media hoax, think again.
Over the past 10 days, White said he, Musk and Zuckerberg have been negotiating behind the scenes with the help of advisers, nudging toward physical combat. White and three people familiar with the discussions said there is no guarantee the game will take place, but the rough outlines of the event are taking shape.
White said the fight is an exhibition match and is outside of the UFC’s official jurisdiction and rights agreement, but they will cooperate in producing the event. A person familiar with White’s talks said tech leaders agreed a philanthropic element was needed, and details were still being worked out. The preferred venue is Las Vegas, but that requires approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.On Thursday, Mr. Musk tweeted This event could also happen at the Colosseum in Rome.
Two people close to Zuckerberg said Zuckerberg’s friends and advisers were generally supportive of the bout, although some said it was a distraction and not a good use of his time. rice field. A person close to Musk said he doesn’t like sports and doesn’t seem to have the discipline to train regularly, but no one has denied him.
A matchup between Musk, 52, and Zuckerberg, 39, would be a rare sight in an industry full of bragging rights. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates used to snipe each other, but before that the closest the tech industry came to a real sports feud was among billionaire yachtsmen For example, Larry Ellison at Oracle and Hasso Plattner at SAP.
But will two very wealthy tech giants grapple, punch and kick in arenas in Las Vegas and Rome? No one would have dreamed of it.
Mr. Mehta declined to comment. Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.
Zuckerberg and Musk have long oscillated between competitors, adversaries, and outright enemies. Over the years, the two have criticized each other, including about Mr. Musk’s SpaceX rocket. data privacy scandal meta, etc. Most recently, Zuckerberg sent a team to Meta to build a competitor for Musk’s Twitter (codenamed “Project 92”).
UFC’s White said he was concerned about the physical differences between the billionaires if their rivalry goes beyond these rants. Excluding the 13-year age gap, Mr. Musk is said to weigh at least 70 pounds more than Mr. Zuckerberg. In official mixed martial arts matches, fighters are usually matched by weight.
“We have two players who have never fought professionally, but they are in two very different weight classes,” White said. Still, he said, “It’s going to be the biggest fight in martial arts history.”
Zuckerberg is especially familiar with the UFC world. Over the past 18 months, he has embarked on a personal journey to bulk up and dive deeper into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling martial art in which competitors attempt to bring their opponents to their knees, and is also used in UFC bouts.
In 2021, Zuckerberg began training larks primarily in his garage, where he built what he calls a “mini-academy” with friends he sparred with. He said he appreciates that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires “100 percent concentration” and strategic thinking to beat an opponent, rather than brute force.
Zuckerberg invited martial arts experts such as Dave Camarillo, James Terry and Kai Wu. In May, he competed in his first public martial arts tournament in Redwood City, California, attending in secret until the moment he removed his hat and sunglasses to fight. He won gold and silver medals in this challenge.
Last year, Meta also announced a partnership with the UFC to bring mixed martial arts fights to its virtual reality app, Horizon World.
White said Zuckerberg was truly committed to the sport.
“I’ve been talking to Zuckerberg for probably close to two years,” he said. “And we never joke, joke or laugh.” He said Meta’s chief executive “was always serious.”
Mr. Zuckerberg is probably in combat. Two people close to him say he has a strict training regimen, going out for runs and challenging his friends and colleagues to beat his times. Last month he broke his personal record. After completing the “Murph” challenge, It involves completing a series of pull-ups, push-ups, miles of running, and hundreds of squats while wearing a heavy, military-grade bulletproof vest.
“I think playing a sport that basically requires total concentration is really important to my mental health and how to stay focused on everything I do,” he said. said in a recent article. podcast episode.
Mr. Musk, on the other hand, tweeted He “rarely” exercises, and once injured my back Surgery was required after participating in an exhibition with wrestlers.last month he Said He was trained in “Judo, Full Contact” (two Japanese martial arts), and “Street Fighting Without Rules”.
Of Musk’s approach to potential opponents, White said, “He made it very clear: ‘I’m not going to lose weight.'” “‘Are we going to fight or are we not going to fight?'” White said Musk told him.
This week, podcaster Rex Fridman posted a photo of himself training judo with Musk. Friedman, who trained with Zuckerberg in jiu-jitsu, did not respond to a request for comment.
At least one person doesn’t seem to like conflict: May Musk, Musk’s mother.
“Don’t encourage this match!” she recently tweetedwith two frowning emojis.